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WATCH NOW: Gertrude Decker, charter member of the YWCA

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“Her spirit of goodwill and enthusiasm inspired the lives of those with whom she came in contact.”

One month after her death the YWCA paid tribute to Gertude Decker, a charter member of the Mason City YWCA and leadership in both local and national boards.

Born in Chicago, Gertrude arrived in Mason City in 1901 with her parents Jacob and Augusta Decker, founder of Jacob E. Decker and Sons Packing Plant.

Following her attendance at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Gertrude taught music in the Mason City schools.

Following her death, the Globe Gazette wrote, “no one lived more unselfishly and selflessly for the community than Miss. Decker.”

Gertrude worked diligently for a variety of community organizations: the First Methodist Church, the Y.W.C.A. and the Community Arts Center.

Gertrude Decker's obituary as printed in the Jan. 29, 1944 edition of the Globe Gazette.

A longtime member of the board of stewards at the First Methodist Church, she was active in their new building program. Following her death, she left the church $50,000 ($700,000 in today's dollars) to be used toward the new building. Gertrude had an active part in supporting a variety of groups, seldom taking credit for her work and often not an office holder.

Additional donations were sent to other causes important to her: Federal Council of Churches of America, American University in Washington, D.C., Piney Woods School for Negroes and the Mason City YWCA.

A photo of the past presidents of the YWCA with an article about the new president.

Art was a special interest to her and she took an active interest in promoting art education. She was active in Art Week programs at the Hotel Hanford, the armory and the Mason City Library. The Community Arts Center, where she was a leader in its development, offered summer art classes to students and adults, hosted a variety of shows including work created through the WPA, ceramics, student art work, student and professional photography.

Planning her own funeral, her last opportunity to speak to the community, Gertrude developed a service of scripture and prayer, a service with poetry by authors who impacted her life, authors who inspired her forward thinking and her deduction to the community.


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